EXCLUSIVE: FBI ‘Granted FISA Warrant’ Covering Trump Camp’s Ties To Russia
By Louise Mensch | 10:18 pm, November 7, 2016
Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.
Contrary to earlier reporting in the New York Times, which cited FBI sources as saying that the agency did not believe that the private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower which was connected to a Russian bank had any nefarious purpose, the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server. The first request, which, sources say, named Trump, was denied back in June, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October after evidence was presented of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank. While the Times story speaks of metadata, sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons.
The FBI agents who talked to the New York Times, and rubbished the ground-breaking stories of Slate ( Franklin Foer) and Mother Jones (David Corn) may not have known about the FISA warrant, sources say, because the counter-intelligence and criminal sides of the FBI often work independently of each other employing the principle of ‘compartmentalization’.
The FISA warrant was granted in connection with the investigation of suspected activity between the server and two banks, SVB Bank and Alfa Bank. However, it is thought in the intelligence community that the warrant covers any ‘US person’ connected to this investigation, and thus covers Donald Trump and at least three further men who have either formed part of his campaign or acted as his media surrogates. The warrant was sought, they say, because actionable intelligence on the matter provided by friendly foreign agencies could not properly be examined without a warrant by US intelligence as it involves ‘US Persons’ who come under the remit of the FBI and not the CIA. Should a counter-intelligence investigation lead to criminal prosecutions, sources say, the Justice Department is concerned that the chain of evidence have a basis in a clear warrant.
In June, when the first FISA warrant was denied, the FBI was reportedly alarmed at Carter Page’s trip to Moscow and meetings with Russian officials, one week before the DNC was hacked. Counter intelligence agencies later reported to both Presidential candidates that Russia had carried out this hack; Donald Trump said publicly in the third debate that ‘our country has no idea’ if Russia did the hacking. The discovery of the Trump Tower private Russian server, however, communicating with Alfa Bank, changed matters, sources report.
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To further complicate the story, the FISA warrant was allegedly granted in part because of the involvement of Vladimir Putin’s own daughters. One is married to a senior official at Gazprom, where Carter Page and Paul Manafort reportedly have holdings; another to Kirill Shamalov, a banking official.
The fact that the alleged warrant was a FISA warrant is itself significant. The court exists to grant warrants to examine cases concerned with Foreign Intelligence.
Pursuant to FISA, the Court entertains applications submitted by the United States Government for approval of electronic surveillance, physical search, and other investigative actions for foreign intelligence purposes. Most of the Court’s work is conducted ex parte as required by statute, and due to the need to protect classified national security information.
Bradley P. Moss is a national security lawyer. He told us:
If a FISA warrant was issued, it does not necessarily mean that the court considered any U.S. persons as literal ‘spies.’ I can imagine an argument having been made that there was probable cause to believe they were “agents of influence” who were unwittingly being influenced by a foreign power.
If the operation concerns suspected money laundering involving a foreign government, the FISA warrant could theoretically encompass U.S. persons in that limited context. A FISA warrant is authorization to collect evidence, not to arrest.
On October 9th, the Trump campaign released a large number of documents pointing out what they alleged were Hillary Clinton’s ties to Russia. On October 12th, rumors of a FISA warrant started to surface online. Donald Trump’s campaign had not answered requests for comment on the matter at time of going to press.
The Washington Post alleges the connection.
This former British lawmaker is at the heart of the Trump wiretap allegations5 / 27
The Washington Post
Karla Adam1 hr ago
© Stefan Wermuth /AFP via Getty Images Louise Mensch in 2012.
LONDON — A former British legislator is at the heart of the Trump administration’s explosive allegation that President Barack Obama was spying on him during the 2016 campaign.
But who exactly is Louise Mensch?
For starters, the politician-turned-journalist is the writer behind an article published on the eve of the election titled: “EXCLUSIVE: FBI ‘Granted FISA Warrant’ Covering Trump Camp’s Ties To Russia.”
The article, published on the right-leaning, libertarian website Heat Street, did not create much of a stir at the time. But it has come under the spotlight after Trump, in a tweetstorm over the weekend, accused Obama of wiretapping his offices during the election campaign. Trump compared the alleged bugging to the Watergate scandal, but he has not offered any evidence to back up his claims.
In tweets on Monday, Mensch emphasized that her reporting does not back up Trump’s wiretapping claim, even though the White House cited her article to justify the allegation. She stressed that her reporting refers to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court warrant and does not mention anything about wiretapping.
Over the weekend, the White House cited reports “from BBC, Heat Street, New York Times, Fox News, among others” to justify the claims. Former Obama administration officials and aides have denied the accusation.
After combing through these news reports, The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler concluded that the piece by Mensch in Heat Street was “the most important” of the lot.
In her report, published Nov. 7, Mensch said the FBI was granted a FISA court warrant in October “giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.”
She cited “two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community” as evidence for those claims.
Mensch, who is based in New York, said her sources contacted her because of her outspoken backing for the intelligence community. She has, for instance, called Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked classified documents, “a loathsome traitor.”
“They gave me one of the most closely guarded secrets in intelligence,” she said, referring to her sources. Speaking to the Guardian, a left-leaning British newspaper, she added: “People are speculating why someone trusted me with that. Nobody met me in a darkened alley in a fedora, but they saw me as someone who has political experience and is their friend. I am a pro-national security partisan. I don’t have divided loyalties.”
Mensch, 45, is a force on social media and describes herself on Twitter as a “Conservative. Feminist. Optimist. Patriot.”
Anyone who follows her on Twitter — and more than 170,000 people do — knows that she is not a Trump supporter and has been probing Trump-Russia links for some time.
Her name also appeared in the hacked emails of John Podesta, the former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. In an email she sent to the Creative Artists Agency that was forwarded to Podesta, Mensch described herself as a “committed Republican” who was concerned about a Trump presidency and offered a suggestion for a campaign ad for Clinton.
In Britain, Mensch is best known for her stint as a Conservative lawmaker and for her work as a successful chick-lit novelist under her maiden name, Louise Bagshawe.
She resigned as a lawmaker in 2012, saying it “proved impossible to balance the needs of my family.” The mother of three moved to New York to live with her husband, Peter Mensch, manager of the bands Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Although she served as a member of Parliament for only two years, she quickly became a high-profile figure, partly because of her leading role in a parliamentary committee investigating phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid.
Mensch was one of four Conservative lawmakers on the committee who refused to endorse the panel’s conclusions. The committee’s description of Murdoch as “not a fit person” to run a major international company, Mensch said, was “partisan” and unjustified. She also apologized to the broadcaster Piers Morgan after falsely accusing him of admitting to phone hacking.
Mensch was regularly featured in the news when she was a politician. She was once contacted by an investigative journalist who claimed to have pictures proving that Mensch had taken drugs in a nightclub in the 1990s with the violinist Nigel Kennedy.
Mensch responded in a statement by saying it was “highly probable” and apologized for her dancing.
“Since I was in my twenties, I’m sure it was not the only incident of the kind; we all do idiotic things when young. I am not a very good dancer and must apologise to any and all journalists who were forced to watch me dance that night at Ronnie Scott’s,” she said.
She works as an executive for News Corp., a media company owned by Murdoch. She helped to launch Heat Street last year but left that role in December and is focusing on creating digital media projects for the company.